Ubisoft is showing off this “key art” for the upcoming Far Cry 5 today. They showed us the game a couple of weeks ago, made us sign our life away. But we can share more by week’s end. It’s set in Montana, as you’ve probably heard.
Saw this on reddit last week and it seems like the guy was legit:
Last year, I participated in a focus group in a major metropolitan area, the topic of which was about video games — I do a lot of these types of groups, but this was the first time doing one on technology. Usually they’re on things like shopping, or blue jeans, or sour cream, or Taco Bell or some such. The initial screener of the group asked about the types of games we like to play — I listed games like GTA 5, Assassin’s Creed, Batman, etc. I was chosen to be part of one of the groups — I was told there were 6 of them extending over a single day, and they’d be running these groups in many major metropolitan areas. For the privilege of being in on this group, for 2 hours of time, I got paid (IIRC) either $100 or $125, can’t remember. Generally, we don’t know who the client is that’s asking for the group until we get there. Turns out... this was Ubisoft. I was excited because I thought maybe we’d be seeing some advanced footage of the next edition of Assassin’s, but this was for Far Cry 5. Awesome, I loved 3 and 4, and tolerated Primal.
Here’s what they showed us in the group — now keep in mind that this MUST be taken with a grain of salt, since it’s been about a year now and a ton of things have likely changed.
- The idea of doing it in Montana was the predominant idea — like many of you, we were kind of led to believe at first that it would be a Wild West motif, just to see what we thought of that idea — but that changed when they started to show us character profiles and other collateral. The general thrust of this game is that it will take place in present day, and feature the protagonist taking on a Jim Jones or David Koresh-like religious cult in a small town in Montana that’s been populated by, essentially, Doomsday-preppers bent on furthering their cause. So, modern-day weaponry and modern-day vehicles, plus a hilly, mountainous backdrop. Honestly, it sounded at the time like they were using that to their advantage, given that when you think of Far Cry you kind of think of mountains and hills and the kind of backdrop Montana has in spades.
- They showed us some basic promotional videos featuring a heavily — HEAVILY — religious angle to the evil. A person (presumably the protagonist) walking through a town that was completely empty, only to walk into a church to discover the congregation is made up of everyone in town staring in rapt attention at a shirtless lunatic leader brandishing an assault rifle in one hand and a Bible in the other. Even at the time, I wondered how they were going to handle the presentation of religious zealotry to the type of Middle America that purchases games for their kids. If they proceed on the path that I saw... they’re not even trying to pretend. They’re steering the vehicle into the curve.
- We saw candids and profiles of many of the characters in the game — left out of those were any kind of details about the primary protagonist, and there wasn’t much on the antagonist-preacher either. Instead, we got views of what I’d presume are some of the support characters. A female mechanic (who I strongly suspect is a love interest, or someone giving you missions) who helps you. An old burnt-out hippie character. Various and sundry small-town folks. And the second-in-command bad guy, who was basically being portrayed as Tom Cruise — an A-list celebrity who became a ranking member of the high council. There were also some oblique references to this religion sharing some commonalities with Scientology, and I wonder if those will make the cut. The only thing about the Tom Cruise cypher that didn’t seem to make a hell of a lot of sense is that he was supposed to have garnered his fame, at least in partial, from working in pornography. If anything’s gonna change, I’d hope it’s this element, because I’m not sure small-town America’s all that ready for porno-Tom-Cruise-turned-religious-nutjob-murderer.
- We didn’t learn much about weapons or vehicles, aside from the fact that they specifically mentioned the types of things we saw in FC3/4 — ATVs, Jeeps, etc.
- The overall feeling I got from the animatic videos we saw is that they’re really playing up a sense of dread. This is a small town and is filled with small-town sensibilities, the kind of place where God’s word is law, and the sense you get is that the antagonist-preacher found a perfect place for his quasi-religion to take root.
- No word on multiplayer during this session. They were only interested in showing us stuff from the campaign, and even then just a few key elements.
- Most of what I saw wasn’t imminently memorable, with the exception of the couple characters and the cool idea of pitting the protagonist against a Branch Davidian-like cult. Mostly what the focus group was gauging was reactions to videos and still images — asking us questions about “how this character would sound,” or “does this person seem like someone you’d like to get to know” and whatnot. When it came time for open feedback, you may be happy to know that I railed them a bit for reusing the map from FC4 for Primal, which felt like lazy bullshit to me.
Anyway, as I said — a lot can change in a year, so please don’t hold my feet to the fire if this has all changed. But for what it’s worth, focus groups are EXPENSIVE to put on, so I sincerely doubt they would have scrapped the entire thing afterwards unless they’d gotten exceptionally negative feedback... and I can tell you that the feedback given by the group members in my session were all exceptionally positive. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing if some or all of what I was shown will be coming true. I like Far Cry a lot, and I want it to get back to the days when the antagonists were charismatic and dangerous.
Anyway, again, I apologize that I have no concrete proof of any of this. I dug the fuck out of the ideas they showed me though.